Just because the characters of "Royal Pains" typically are seen at play in the Hamptons in the summer, that doesn't mean they don't celebrate the end-of-year holidays, too.
USA Network confirms it by giving the series -- which wrapped its fourth round a few months ago -- a new, stand-alone offering with "Off-Season Greetings" Sunday at 9 p.m. The two-hour movie both advances the saga and goes back in time with it, as doctor-to-the-rich Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) recalls his earlier romances, while his brother Evan (Paulo Costanzo) prepares to walk down the aisle with Paige (Brooke D'Orsay).
"It's directed by one of our executive producers, Michael Rauch," Feuerstein says of the film, "and no one knows the DNA of the show more than him ... other than our other executive producer, Andrew Lenchewski. The two of them have built such an efficient and creative machine, and the show has gone in so many interesting directions. I get to play a character who's close to me, but who's also so much more of a human being than I could ever hope to be.
"Thanks to the writers who bring their own special flavors to this incredible melting pot of creativity, we have characters who are rich enough for us to earn the right to say, 'Who were Hank and Evan before this?' We go farther back into the past than we've ever gone on the show. We've had moments where Hank was working in a Brooklyn hospital, but now, we go into Evan's shady career past and Hank's shady romantic past."
"Off-Season Greetings" also marks the return of Jill Flint as Hank's former flame, who has been away serving the medical needs of an African village.
"Thematically, her character's going to Africa has an incredible effect on Hank. It marked the end of their relationship, but the beginning of her finding herself. And when he sees that she can be happy in a foreign land with only a shack and her knowledge of medicine, he sees that it's possible to go out of your comfort zone and find your bliss."
"Royal Pains" has gotten a two-season renewal from USA. As production gears up for season 5, Feuerstein is glad to give fans a bonus with the holiday tale, which he says is true to what the weekly version has been from the start.
"Viewers who stay with us get to see that this is a show that's constantly pushing the envelope, within the context of what USA does," he says. "We'll never go 'Breaking Bad' on anything, but we're still able to tell good stories with edge and humor and truth and pathos. And, I hope, always with class and originality."
"Even hearing from friends who are on current shows where the given network is constantly changing its mind, making rash and panicked and neurotic decisions, it is such a relief to be on a cable channel that so clearly gets behind its product and continues to support it creatively ... so much so, they've let us make a movie."